Establish a Content Review Process
Do you regularly review your Web content to make sure it's correct and up-to-date? The public trusts U.S. Government websites to provide current and accurate information. Are you doing all you can to ensure that trust is well-deserved?
One way to build trust with your visitors is to implement a website-wide content review process. Yes, it takes time, but it is critical to your credibility. Visitors expect and deserve accurate information on your website, and regular reviews will keep your content ship-shape!
Step 1: Lay the groundwork for success
- Enlist support from management to implement reporting requirements and ensure compliance throughout your organization. Besides being the right thing to do for the public, all federal public websites must comply with existing laws and regulations related to the management of public Web records. (These requirements apply to executive departments and agencies and their public websites. Check the specific law to see if it also applies to judicial or legislative agencies or to intranets.) Managers throughout your organization should be accountable for ensuring their content is regularly reviewed and updated when needed.
- Ask each manager to designate a Web coordinator for their office—the person who will manage the content review for their office, and work with you to update content.
- Assign an owner to every page on your site. The owner is usually the office that created the page, and they must be responsible for maintaining their content. Don't post it and forget it!
Step 2: Develop criteria for your reviews
- Functionality—do all links work, and go to the expected page? Can visitors successfully navigate their task from start to finish?
- Quality—is the page written in plain language? Are there errors in spelling or grammar? Does the page duplicate information found elsewhere on your site, or another government website? Does the page follow your standard website template and publication standards?
- Review top task content more frequently than lower-priority content. The content that is most important to your visitors, or that is likely to change often, should receive the most attention.
Step 3: Develop a schedule for your reviews
- All content should be reviewed at least once per year, at a minimum. Top task and popular content should be reviewed more frequently.
Assign a rating schedule to each page to help manage this process. Example:
- Review quarterly—top task content, agency home page, most-visited pages, anything that changes frequently such as contact names or phone numbers, new content posted since the last review.
- Review once or twice per year—all content, excluding archives.
Step 4: Conduct regular reviews
- Develop a regular review schedule (for example, quarterly) so content reviews become a standard business practice at your agency.
- Send your Web coordinators a list of their pages (URLs) before each review cycle, so they know exactly which pages they are responsible for reviewing.
Step 5: Follow up
- Inform managers and Web coordinators when their updates are posted.
- Thank your team for their help!
How other agencies manage their content reviews:
- EERE has a content checklist (MS Word, 119KB, 2 pages, March 2008) to guide content developers and editors in content creation and review.
- EPA has developed a Web content review process.